Hands-on with the Apple iPad 3G

Over a million Americans have now snapped up an iPad, which means it's the perfect time for Apple to make them question their buying decision by relea

Over a million Americans have now snapped up an iPad, which means it's the perfect time for Apple to make them question their buying decision by releasing the 3G version of the wonder-tablet. We've taken one for a test-drive (and done a full review) so you're prepared for the big question when the iPad finally reaches the UK later this month – to 3G, or not to 3G?

Like a house-trained puppy, the month-old iPad can now explore the great outdoors. The good news? The combination of cellular, Wi-Fi and GPS snaps the iPad 3G into its location in seconds, and superb mapping keeps you locked on to roads like rails.

Maps load speedily over 3G and the expansive real estate means you’ve the closest thing yet to a digital road atlas in your hands.

The bad news? In daylight, the iPad’s stunning screen looks terrible. It’s still (just) readable but the combination of hundreds of smeary fingerprints and a sickly green colour cast will make you long for the cosy dimness of a coffee shop.

Don’t get too excited about that 3G connection, either. While it’s fine for surfing, downloads and decent audio streaming (Last.fm sounds great), YouTube automatically downgrades beautiful HD clips to barely watchable versions and online TV apps like the impressive but US-only ABC Player won’t play at all without Wi-Fi.

In the US, there are two data plans, both using AT&T. The $15 (£10) monthly charge gives you 250MB. In a single (fairly intensive) day of general browsing, map surfing and emailing, we got through 60MB, so cloud warriors will prefer shelling out $30 (£20) for truly unlimited mobile broadband. Either plan can be cancelled and re-started from month to month.

Head over to our full review of the Apple iPad 3G for our final verdict, and check out our video review of the Wi-Fi iPad for a full tour.

 

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